By James Wells

BRISBANE: Betta Stores Limited (BSL) chief executive officer, Guy Houghton, has given his support to Tom Antonio and Greg Neck who have decided to leave the group and join Narta.

Houghton told that the decision by the largest Betta Electrical member in South Australia and the Northern Territory is merely a case of two members not wanting to follow the next stage of the group’s strategy.

“The current moves by a small number of retailers is being brought about by the fact that a decision now needs to be made to either come with the Group and deliver what the customer wants or break away and do their own thing,” Houghton said.

“Both the Murray Neck Group and Electrical Discounters have been good friends of BSL for many years and whilst we are always disappointed to lose any retailers from the Group, I support their decisions.

“Our position is that we are delivering on our promise to our franchisees and suppliers by offering a more consistent offer to the consumer under the Betta Electrical or Chandlers brands.

“This consistency has been captured in the new franchise agreement – the agreement that a large number of our franchisees are currently reviewing and either committing to, or in some cases, not,” Houghton said.

One of the more contentious elements of the new franchise agreement is the five per cent penalty placed on sales for non-core suppliers to the group which now includes brands such as Sony and Hitachi.

Houghton did not wish to comment about industry speculation that another large Betta Electrical member at Albury Wodonga would be leaving the group. believes the industry speculation was initiated following a heated discussion with BSL management at the recent Victorian state conference. also understands that the store’s proprietor and former Betta Electrical Store of the Year winner, Anthony Cowan, has an agreement with BSL until 2010.